Monthly Archives: December 2013

Jill Wilson Named Principal of the Year!

Some of us spend a lifetime chasing after the next career move that will land us one step closer to our “dream job.”  We set goals and strive for excellence, but even with diligent effort, few of us will ever be regarded as the best.

But for Jill Wilson, Principal of Allendale Elementary School, she has achieved just that. This November, Mrs. Wilson received news from MEMSPA (Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principal’s Association) that she had been named Elementary Principal of the Year!

Jill Wilson, Allendale Public SchoolsEach year, MEMSPA selects one principal from each of its twelve regions for this recognition, with the board of directors and regional representatives making the final selections from a pool of nominations. Mrs. Wilson was nominated by Allendale Public Schools, as well as by several staff members individually, for being compassionate, caring, acting as a mentor and setting high expectations, among numerous others. Yet Mrs. Wilson knew nothing of these nominations until one day in November.

Mrs. Wilson recalls running into Tom DeGraaf, MEMSPA’s Region 12 Director, at a principal’s meeting in Ottawa County last month. Tom wasted no time in prompting her to attend the conference where the awards would be handed out. She remembers bursting into laughter at the thought, feeling that the talent and dedication of the other principals was so honorable that she would never be singled out among such a crowd. Yet Tom’s encouragement was the push she needed to reserve her spot at the annual MEMSPA conference at Traverse City’s Grand Traverse Resort.

Of course that decision proved to be a game changer because at the conference, Mrs. Wilson was awarded Region 12 Michigan Elementary School Principal of the Year! When hearing her name, Mrs. Wilson said she felt a “shot of adrenaline to continue to do as much as I can to impact staff, students and parents in a positive way!”

Reflecting on the evening and the weeks since, she tells us:

“I am very humbled by this honor.  I know that there are many other professionals in the field of education that are passionate about what they are doing and why they are doing it and are far more deserving than I may be.  I have spent 30 years in public education (29 at APS) and I can’t think of a place I’d rather be.  I hope that this award brings awareness of the need for continued support for our teachers, students, support staff and school community as a whole. Allendale Public School District is a place to highlight. An award such as this could not be possible without the love and support of my husband, three daughters and extended family.  They have been there to help whenever they could! I was thrilled to have my husband be able to join me at the event!” 

Our sincere congratulations to Mrs. Wilson for this tremendous honor! We’re blessed to have you serving students in Allendale!

Jill Wilson, Allendale Public Schools, MEMSPA

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Oakwood Elementary Gives to TOUCH Ministries

Despite the beauty of December and the anticipation that comes with the family tree, it’s easy to get bogged down in the frenzy of the Christmas Season. Relentless commercials and an endless flow of catalogs and coupons convince us that the shopping should never end. And sometimes, even those of us with the best intentions don’t stop to consider that saying “no” to a $2 stocking stuffer means we could say “yes” to something else. Something profound — like providing an education to a child in a developing country.

Lema 2

This Christmas, Oakwood’s Sarah Lema is working to turn the tide from holiday getting to holiday giving. And she’s doing it by connecting Oakwood students to a school half-way around the world…in Tanzania, Africa.


Mrs. Lema is pictured kneeling in the center, joined by Oakwood students helping with the school’s “penny war.”

Mrs. Lema’s interest in that country began after college, when a friend introduced her to a Julius, the Tanzanian man she would marry. They went on to forge a friendship with George and Andrea Kitomary, another Tanzania/Michigan couple who began TOUCH Ministies and now live and work in Africa, running the school that Oakwood’s holiday gift will support. Julius was able to visit the school in November and both he and Mrs. Lema hope to return together in 2015.

But more than their personal interest in the school, Mrs. Lema has a vision for something bigger. She dreams of Oakwood students finding true joy in generosity and a developing a greater awareness of the reality of life in a developing country.

She recently shared:

“It is my hope that the students at Oakwood will learn how our acts of kindness can have a powerful impact on the lives of others.  Through this opportunity, I would like them to also experience the joy in giving to others.  Through Oakwood’s generosity this deserving group of students will receive one of the most important gifts we can give: an education.  However, Oakwood students will also receive important gifts: a new cultural awareness and important lessons about making a difference across the world.  This partnership will have a positive impact on both groups of students!”

Click here or on the image below to learn more about this project. Take a moment to view this presentation, meet the students they’ve been able to support, and see what Oakwood students are doing to change the world:

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 11.15.48 PM

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Celebrating our 100th Blog Post!

100 anniversary

Since our very first post went live in February of 2012, we have spent our Tuesdays together, applauding the great things happening at Allendale Public Schools and marveling at the ways our students rise to the challenges set before them.

We have covered Fine Arts Fairs and two High School Musicals: Beauty and the Beast  and Bye-Bye Birdie. We’ve introduced you to our elementary “3R Superstars” and told you about the many activities surrounding our annual Allendale Community Field Days. You’ve read about our middle school bands grabbing perfect scores and our Science Olympiad team going to state and reflected on the success of our high school robotics team last spring.

We have also shared heartfelt stories of compassion by students who want to make a difference. In the winter of 2012, we told you about the efforts of our fifth graders in supporting cancer survivors, beginning with their own teacher, Mrs. Gravelyn. And we have wiped tears away at the written words of two Allendale students whose Gerald R. Ford Foundation essays on patriotism and integrity gripped our hearts and landed them among the best in Michigan.

We’ve cheered for the New Options students who were committed to planning a prom for their school and rallied alongside middle schoolers working to keep their school bully-free.  And finally, we spent last summer reading letters from students who are grateful to this district for the education they’ve received, the teachers who have impacted them and the relationships they’ve made along the way.

Thank you for taking this journey with us each week and for investing in the lives of Allendale students in so many different ways — whether you volunteer at school, chaperone a field trip, make brownies for the class party, fundraise for athletics or support the band boosters, your contributions help us bridge the gap between good and great.

We are grateful!

[photo source]

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AMS Students Hit All The Right Notes

The Michigan School Vocal Music Association has been inspiring young musicians and helping to strengthen music education since 1937. Aside from the important work of providing a baseline for music philosophy and a standard of excellence for music educators in Michigan, this group also presents singers in grades 6 through 12 with the unique opportunity to perform at the state level with the best of the best.

We are pleased to share that Allendale Middle School, under the coaching guidance of Mr. Adam Wurst, prepared twelve choir students for this exciting challenge which took place in Owosso, Michigan, on Saturday, October 19.

Allendale Middle School, State Honors Choir

We’re so proud of our twelve auditioning students!

Much like athletes striving for a title, students who wish to compete for the honor of a state title must first audition by singing a piece that is “thoroughly prepared in advance of the audition day. The audition piece is to be memorized.” (source). But the audition doesn’t stop there — because not just one, but two pieces of music must be prepared, and they must be pitch perfect. Mr. Adam Wurst, AMS choir teacher, worked independently with each student for three weeks to them prepare for this unique opportunity.

Mr. Wurst explained the structure of this audition:

“Students sang in a trio of 3 singers, each performing their own part. They were then given a score based on their level of preparation and other musical factors, such as accuracy of rhythm, pitch, dynamics, and memorization.”

It is our pleasure to announce that nine Allendale Middle School students were given the nod and will be performing in the SSA and TTB State Honors Choirs for middle school on Thursday, January 16! These performances will take place in DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Allendale Middle School, State Honors Choir

We offer our sincere congratulations to ALL of our students who auditioned — for tireless practice and dedication to excellence. And we applaud the achievements of those who will be lifting the rafters in Grand Rapids in January:

SSA (Soprano 1, Soprano 2, Alto) Honors Choir:
Kate Mahaffy, 7th grade
Kelsey Inman-Carter, 8th grade
Alaina White, 8th grade
TTB (Tenor 1, Tenor 2, Bass) Honors Choir:
Jonah DeZwaan, 7th grade
Sean Schmidt, 7th grade
Howard Barnes, 8th grade
Isaac Cameron, 8th grade
Jacob Doornbos, 8th grade
Jeff Secord, 8th grade
Categories: Allendale Middle School, Allendale Music Education | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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